Book online «The Accidental Duke (The Mad Matchmaking Men of Waterloo Book 1) Devlin, Barbara (that summer book .TXT) 📖». Author Devlin, Barbara
The Accidental Duke
Book One in the
Mad Matchmaking Men of Waterloo
By Barbara Devlin
© Copyright 2021 by Barbara Devlin
Text by Barbara Devlin
Cover by Wicked Smart Designs
Dragonblade Publishing, Inc. is an imprint of Kathryn Le Veque Novels, Inc.
P.O. Box 7968
La Verne CA 91750
Produced in the United States of America
First Edition April 2021
Reproduction of any kind except where it pertains to short quotes in relation to advertising or promotion is strictly prohibited.
All Rights Reserved.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
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Table of Contents
About the Author
The sweet stench of blood mixed with sweat and damp earth weighed heavy in the air, an acrid pall thick as evening fog on the Thames. Mangled bodies, some bearing no recognizable features, littered the once resplendent countryside, which now manifested a seemingly infinite makeshift gravesite. The remaining survivors, beaten and butchered, their cries merging to form a morbid audial tapestry of misery and pain, stumbled to their respective camps, oblivious to the herald’s cry declaring the winner, as if anyone could claim victory amid such massive human devastation.
Crawling along the verge, a lone soldier, a mere shadow of a man, confused and afraid, shook himself alert and dragged himself toward safety. At least, he thought he headed in the right direction, but he didn’t understand why he failed to advance. Instead, he struggled in place. After rolling onto his back, he sat upright and wiped his brow. Shielding his eyes from the sun’s rays, he peered down. It was then he discovered the lower half of his left arm missing, and he screamed.
Venting an unholy howl of horror, British Army Major Anthony Erasmus Hildebrand Bartlett, 7th marquess of Rockingham, woke with a lurch and glanced from side to side. With his eyes focused on the canopy of his four-poster bed, as his heartbeat hammered in his chest and his pulse pounded in his ears, he gasped for breath. At last, he realized he prevailed in London.
After a few minutes, he pushed from the mattress, and the fear wrenching his gut subsided. With questionable balance, he staggered to the washstand. At the basin, he fought with the heavy pitcher but managed to fill the porcelain bowl. Then he splashed his face with water. Studying his reflection in the mirror, he frowned and shook his head.
How long would the nightmares terrorize his sleep?
How many times would he venture to that awful place?
The Battle of Waterloo may have ended the war with France, but it left behind a trail of victims still engaged in conflicts, real and imagined, nonetheless brutal as the original skirmish. While England celebrated Napoleon’s defeat and exile, and life returned to normal on the streets of London, full of frivolous balls, promenades, and musicales that marked the start of the Season, Anthony remained imprisoned in the past.
At the Mont Saint Jean escarpment where he lost his limb and so much more.
“Anthony, are you there?” Father knocked and then opened the door. “I thought I heard you.” Without invitation, he strolled into the bedchamber. “Are you all right, son?”
“Aside from the fact that I have no left hand, I suppose I am fine.” Summoning composure, Anthony buried his nose in a towel and braced for another lecture, a predictable succession of which occupied his daily routine and chipped away at the last vestiges of his patience. There was a time when he considered his father a friend, but that changed when Anthony became the heir to a dukedom he did not want. Second sons required no regular reprimands on the importance of honor and duty. Tossing aside the cloth, he stared at the empty sleeve pinned to his shirt, which reflected a far greater loss than the absent appendage. “And I apologize if I disturbed you.”
“You nap as you did when you were a babe, and that is what concerns me.” And so the familiar discourse commenced, as dependable as the sunset, and his father frowned. “You have been home these eight months, yet you do not resume your normal activities. The war is over, yet you maintain the fight. Why do you shut yourself away from the world? Why do you not go out with your friends?” he asked in a sharp tone. “You are a war hero, distinguished by your courage displayed under Wellington’s command. Why do you not celebrate—”
“What is there to